Shellard & McCraith View Extant Instruments View Instruments


San Francisco, California, c.1860s-1880
Classification: Service Person

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January 12, 2016:

From Organ Database Builders editor Stephen Hall, March 29, 2018. -

After the initial surge of prospectors during the 1849 gold rush, San Francisco grew rapidly in the 1850s and 60s. The Comstock silver lode was discovered in 1858 just as the gold boom ended.1 The earlier miners settlement became a center of commerce, banks were established to handle the transactions of the precious metals business. Other industries appeared to service the mining operations. These new businesses were more profitable to the owners than the mines had been to their owners; Fine homes and churches appeared as a new money class was established.2 Those churches were a new market for eastern organ builders, but a difficult one to reach. The transcontinental railroad was still under construction, the only way to get an instrument there was to send by ship going all the way around the southern tip of South America and back up the Pacific coast to the city on the bay. The instruments also needed someone local to service them after the initial installation.

B. Shellard was one of the agents sent by eastern firms to install and service instruments in the Bay area, in this case, the prestigious firm of E & G.G. Hook of Boston. After his arrival in San Francisco circa 1860, Shellard along with his partner ( ____) McCaith began installing Hook organs in the new churches appearing in the boom town. A second wave of business occured in the 1870s as Nob Hill replaced Rincon Hill as the fashionable home district.3 Churches followed the population move, organs had to be moved or replaced by new larger instruments. The firm was recorded as being engaged to move an organ from the Central Presbyterian Church of San Francisco to the First Presbyterian Church of San Jose in 1872.4 Shellard was still in business and became a partner with a Mr. Alleran in San Francisco, California, circa 1880, there is no mention of McCaith after that time.5


  1. James Brooks et al, Reclaiming San Francisco: History, Politics, Culture, (City Lights Books, 1998), 90
  2. Rand Richards, Historic San Francisco: A Concise History and Guide, (Heritage House Publishers, 2007), 80-81.
  3. Richards, ibid. 81.
  4. Alley, Bowen, & Company, History of Santa Clara County, California, (Oakland Cal.: Pacific Press, 1881), 475.
  5. David Fox, A Guide to North American Organbuilders (Richmond, Va.: Organ Historical Society, 1991), 265.

We received the most recent update for this note from Database Manager on February 11, 2019.

October 30, 2004:

From the OHS PC Database, derived from A Guide to North American Organbuilders, by David H. Fox (Richmond, Va.: Organ Historical Society, 1991). -

Active in San Francisco, California, c. 1860s-1880; representative of the E. & G. G. Hook* firm of Boston.

*The firm was succeeded by E. & G. G. Hook & Hastings in 1872 when junior partner Frank Hastings became a full partner. -Ed.


  • Louis J. Schoenstein, Memoirs of a San Francisco Organ Builder (San Francisco: Cue Publications, 1977), 121.
  • Elizabeth Towne Schmitt.

We received the most recent update for this note from Database Manager on April 29, 2019.

Database Specs:

  • 1 Organs
  • 0 Divisions
  • 0 Consoles

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